After picking my jaw up off the floor around 9pm last night (California time), my brain started thinking about the meaning of this shock.
Some of the detailed post-vote exit data is interesting — e.g. turnout, who was or wasn’t bothered by Trump’s misogyny (and how they voted), the role of eduction level, county-level maps, etc.
But I went to bed thinking about broader, historical meanings. Woke up in the middle of the night (just got back from 10 days in Greece), and watched a video of some historian giving his 2 cents on last night.
I agreed with his take: this election was about kicking da bums out. Specifically, looking at two-term presidents in history (I’m looking at you Obama), who among them has completed his last term and seen his “successor” elected?
Throwing out the period before 1830 (when national politics was just beginning), here’s the list of two term presidents sorted by Yes (their successor won), versus No (no successor or their successor lost) (see List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States):
I’m counting only two-term presidents who completed their last term, rather than presidents who died in office. This analysis is about the successor, and the “tails” of the outgoing two-termer. When you die in office (or leave like Nixon), the country gets to see your successor as president before he later runs as an incumbent.
Since 1900, the prevailing pattern in America seems to be: kick da bums out!
Of course, the exception is Reagan. Does Bush’s Sr.’s 1988 win say more about Reagan’s tails, or about the weakness of Michael Dukakis?
Methinks the FiveThirtyEight folks need to put this “kick da bums out” mega-trend in their model.
Why did Hillary lose? Was she Michael Dukakis? Or was Obama a weak two-termer, just like almost every other two-termer since 1900?
Maybe it’s a little of both.
At bottom, to me, this election is about a repudiation of Obama (just like with Wilson, Eisenhower, Clinton, and Bush before him).
In that historical light, Trump isn’t so exceptional.
But of course in every other light, he’s beyond exceptional.
The big question now on the morning-after is: “After rejecting Obama, where do we go from here?”
You know I’ll have my thoughts on that one. 🙂